Sunday, April 29, 2012

Who will be the Jeremy Lin of this year's political game of thrones?

2012 will be one of the most competitive elections for AAPIs in U.S. history.  In California alone, 8 AAPIs are viable candidates for open State Assembly seats and at least 3 AAPIs have the potential to be elected in Congressional seats that are not currently held by AAPIs.  Nationally, 3 AAPI women are making waves in high profile seats in Congress.

California is currently home to 11 AAPIs elected to the Legislature, 3 to the U.S. House of Representatives, and 4 constitutional officers.  4 of the AAPIs in the Legislature will be leaving office at the end of this year due to term limits (Mike Eng, Warren Furutani, Mary Hayashi, & Fiona Ma).  AAPI candidates are poised to replace 3 of the 4 departing incumbents.  Attorney and school board member Ed Chau (D) is running to replace Mike Eng in the 49th AD, Dr. Jennifer Ong (D) is running to replace Mary Hayashi in the 20th AD, and Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting (D) is running to replace Ma in the 19th AD.

In other open Assembly seats, Peter Tateishi (R) is running in the 8th AD, Torrance School Board member Al Muratsuchi (D) is running in the 66th AD, Alameda City Councilman Rob Bonta (D) is running in the 18th AD, OC Board of Education member Long Pham (R) is running in the 72nd AD, and Sid Voorakkara (D) is running in the 79th AD.  There are a number of other AAPIs running for legislative seats, but their fundraising numbers and lack of political experience make them less viable to win.

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Potential Congressional seat pick-ups for AAPIs include Dr. Ami Bera (D) in CD 7, Riverside Community College Trustee Mark Takano (D) in CD 41, and Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong (D) in CD 21.  In addition, underdog efforts to unseat incumbent members of Congress include Hacienda La Puente School Board Trustee Jay Chen (D) in CD 39, Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang in CD 45, and decorated Iraqi war veteran Otto Lee (D) in CD 22.

AAPIs running for re-election in California include Doris Matsui (D-CD 6), Mike Honda (D-CD 17), Judy Chu (D-CD 27), Carol Liu (D-SD 25), Mariko Yamada (D-AD 4), Dr. Richard Pan (D-AD 9), Paul Fong (D-AD 28), and Das Williams (D-AD 37).

Nationally, the hottest races for AAPIs include U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono for U.S Senate in Hawaii, Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard for U.S House of Representatives in Hawaii, Decorated war veteran Tammy Duckworth for U.S House of Representatives in Illinois, and Assembly Member Grace Meng for U.S House of Representatives in New York.  Also, U.S. Rep. Hanson Clark will have a tough re-elect because redistricting put him into a district occupied by another sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Dr. Manan Trivedi (D) recently was added to DCCC's Red to Blue list, indicating that he will have a good chance of taking the Republican held seat in PA 6.  Connecticut legislator William Tong's race for U.S. Senate has raised a significant war chest and received some national buzz as the "Asian Obama", but key factions of the political establishment has backed the candidate who currently serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Politics is the one of the most elite and merciless arenas of competition in the world.  AAPIs have excelled in many things, but it still seems that we haven't quite got our groove on in the world of politics.

We can claim Pres. Obama as the first AAPI president, and despite his trailblazing efforts to raise the visibility of AAPIs and AAPI issues (such as appointing an unprecedented number of AAPI cabinet secretaries), it would be a stretch for us to say we've made it in the bare-knuckle world of politics.

Well, 2012 is as good a test of our mettle as any.  We have more legitimately viable candidates running for state and federal office than in any other time in U.S. history.  Whether we make it or break it is entirely up to you.

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